Hearts And Minds

Entry by: Alobear

4th November 2016

The street vendor thrusts a fist-sized globule of flesh at me. It drips blood around his fingers, mingling with the grime encrusted under his nails. I veer away, repulsed.

“Liver and kidneys! Get your liver and kidneys here!”

The shout comes from my other side, and I stumble on, sickened by the smell of spoiling meat and worse things. The organ market stretches on all sides, seemingly going on forever. Blood-stained aprons adorn the burly men and women hawking their wares. Trays of unidentified morsels threaten to overwhelm me with their aroma. The vendors’ cries merge together into an incomprehensible cacophony, assaulting my ears and making my head spin. I keep moving, hoping I can make it to the exit before I collapse.

My mind is fuzzy; it must be the lingering effects of the drugs. But I know I can’t trust anyone here to help me. I have to get well away before I’ll be able to look for somewhere safe to rest.

It was shaping up to be a really exciting trip. My fiance and I had been planning it for months; a last, reckless adventure before the wedding and the inevitable mundanity of married life. Neither of us had ever been to Thailand before, and backpacking felt like a way to make us feel young and free again. We didn’t work out an itinerary or let anyone know where we would be along our way. We just set off and let the road take us where it would. It all felt so untethered and exhilarating until we got separated and someone grabbed me off the busy street. I felt a sharp prick in the side of my neck and then nothing.

I woke on a pallet in a dingy room, alone except for the rats I could hear scuffling in a dark corner. I’ve always had a strange resistance to anaesthetics. It’s caused me some problems in the past, but I think it’s what saved my life in that room. Whoever took me must have expected me to be unconscious for hours yet, since I wasn’t tied down, and there was nobody watching me.

I heard voices through the thin wall, and what I could make out sent a chill down my spine that helped me shake off the haze of drug-induced confusion. They were planning on harvesting my organs to sell on the black market. I forced myself up and off the pallet. I was still dressed in my own clothes, but I had difficulty moving with any speed, and I staggered as I tried to make my way to the door.

I managed to make it outside without alerting anyone to my movements, and found myself amongst the stalls of the meat market. What better place to hide an illicit organ smuggling operation? I had to assume at least some of the vendors were in on the scheme, so I tried to make myself inconspicuous and blend in with the customers.

Once I get out of the market, I hope I’ll be able to find somewhere I can get help. My fiance must be frantic by now. I don’t know how long I’ve been missing, but he must have noticed almost immediately. Unless they got him, too. I hadn’t thought of that, but I can’t go back now. It’s too risky. All I can do is alert the authorities and hope to lead them back in time to save any other unlucky souls who’ve been captured before they lose any vital parts.

But it’s so hard to focus. The market is disorienting and my mind won’t concentrate on what I’m doing. It keeps skittering away to other thoughts; some innocuous, others fearful. I’m so tired. My feet feel so heavy and it’s getting harder and harder to keep going. I reel sideways and catch myself against the side of one of the stalls.

The vendor, a young woman, looks at me anxiously.

“You okay?” she asks. She glances around, though whether to seek additional assistance or find someone to come and recapture me, I have no way of knowing.

All I do know is that I can go no further. There must have been more to the drug cocktail they gave me than a simple sedative. I can feel it leeching the strength from my body second by second. My heart is pounding but my mind is sluggish. There’s nothing for it but to trust to this young woman, and hope her concern is genuine.

“Help me,” I croak. “Please, get help.”

That’s all I can get out before the world slips sideways and I feel myself falling. I pitch into a black hole of the unknown. When I awake again, will it be to safety or renewed peril? I can only wait, and hope.